In Spain, the unique customs and traditions don’t stop when Christmas ends. They continue right into the New Year. From eating twelve grapes (just like the Italians) to dropping gold into cava, the Spanish have lots of interesting ways of welcoming in the New Year. So, whether you are brushing up for a trip to the Iberian Peninsula or you are just curious, here are some unique New Year’s traditions in Spain.
7 Spanish New Year’s Traditions
1. Wear red underwear for love
In the run-up to New Year’s Eve – called nochevieja, meaning old night – lots of stores in Spain start advertising red underwear. If one of your new year resolutions is to find love, then tradition dictates that you should wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve as Cupid will be able to find you easier to bring you love. Some say that this will only work if the red underwear was and gift and others believe that you need to give away the underwear before daybreak for the luck to really work.
2. Dine on lentils
Traditionally, the main dish on Año Nuevo (New Year’s Day) in Spain is lentils. Not only are lentils good for curing a hangover, but they are also said to bring good luck and fortune due to their coin-like shape. The Spanish usually, eat lentils in a stew with chorizo.
3. Eating twelve grapes
When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, the Spanish eat twelve grapes. One for each month of the year. However, you must pop the whole grape in your mouth, one at each stroke of the clock. This is no mean feat! Shops sell small, seedless grapes, especially for this occasion.
4. Toasting with cava
Cava is a sparkling wine made in Spain and is used to toast the New Year. However, to make this toast even more special it is tradition to put a gold object into the glass before drinking. The Spanish believe this brings extra prosperity. Most people drop in a gold ring or coin. However, if you are looking for love and not prosperity in the new year, then drop in a red fruit such as a strawberry or raspberry.
5. Square dancing
In the big cities in Spain, people gather in the plaza central (main square) to ring in the New Year. In Madrid, people congregate in the Puerta del Sol and in Barcelona they gather in Plaça España. Here you’ll see the Spanish eating the twelve grapes as the clock strikes midnight and then the dancing starts. Revellers dance the night away until the early hours of the morning.
6. Hot chocolate nightcap
Many Spanish end their New Year’s Eve celebrations with traditional hot chocolate and churros. This provides a boost of energy so they can make it home to bed! This is one of the most delicious New Year’s traditions in Spain!
7. Starting the New Year on the right foot
Spanish tradition says that you literally have to start the year off on the right foot. Therefore, the first step that you take after the clock strikes midnight should be with your right foot. By putting your right foot forward first, you are on the way to attracting love, fortune and luck in the new year.